Tahj Patterson pulled an old-school tool out of the tool box Saturday afternoon.
A senior guard for the Lutheran North boys basketball team, Patterson looked into the lane and saw Trinity’s 7-foot center Ryan Kalkbrenner waiting on him.
Patterson and the Crusaders took the mid-range jumpers they were given to build a 22-point fourth-quarter lead then held off Trinity’s furious final five minutes for a thrilling 87-79 win in the Class 3 District 7 championship game at home.
Lutheran North (21-8) advanced to play O’Fallon Christian (24-5) in a sectional at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday at Francis Howell Central.
It’s the 14th district championship for Lutheran North and its first since 2013. The Crusaders appeared to be headed for a runaway win. Senior guard Jordan Smith buried a jumper to put Lutheran North ahead 73-51 — its largest lead — with 5 minutes and 12 seconds to play.
The No. 5 small school in the STLhighschoolsports.com
rankings, Trinity (23-6) elevated its defensive intensity which led to turnovers and momentum. Kalkbrenner scored a one-handed shot that cut the deficit to 82-79 with 49 seconds remaining.
“They’re a great team. We knew we had to keep piling up on our lead when we had the opportunity,” Smith said. “It was going to be a long game. On this journey through the playoffs, you have to fight no matter how you get it done. You can be up by a lot and it can get cut down and we know that.”
This article was originally published on stltoday.com